Heard Library at Vanderbilt University is home to The Syriac Reference Portal, a digital research project directed by Professor David A. Michelson (Divinity School). Over 20 Vanderbilt students and several Heard library staff members have collaborated as part of the international team of scholars who are


[Global Editorial Collaboration of] The Syriac Reference Portal is a digital project hosted by Vanderbilt University for the study of Syriac literature, culture, and history. Today, a number of heritage communities around the world have linguistic, religious or cultural identities with roots in Syriac language and culture. exists to document and preserve these Syriac cultural heritages. The online tools published by are intended for use by a wide audience including researchers and students, members of Syriac heritage communities and the interested general public. In order to meet the diverse needs of users, the design of is inherently collaborative and fluid. Over 100 scholars and students in 12 countries have collaborated on the project. This map shows their locations.

Stephanie Fulbright. [Global Editorial Collaboration of]. 2016. map, reproduction from digital rendering. Website


[ Student Research Group] is a research collaborative that brings together students and faculty to preserve and document the history of Syriac. Over 50 student researchers have worked on the project including 20 Vanderbilt University students. The Vanderbilt Divinity School students pictured here worked with Prof. David Michelson to create digital descriptions of Syriac manuscripts in the British Library. They are (from left to right): Peter Miller (MTS’15), Stephanie Fulbright (MTS’17), Kayla Kotewall (MDiv’16), and Kim Goins (MDiv’18).

Michelle Bukowski. [ Student Research Group]. 2016. photograph. Vanderbilt Divinity School


[Library Dean’s Fellow Alex Ayris Presenting His Project]'s research has been supported by the Dean’s Fellowship program of the Jean & Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University. In the Spring of 2016, a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Department of Religion, Alex Ayris (pictured here presenting on his research) was the lead researcher on a project, “Linked Data from the Medieval Middle East.” The goal of the project was to enhance the digital data of by exporting it as “Linked Open Data.” This enhancement is designed to breakdown the walls between databases (the so-called “silo effect”) so that can connect its own findings to multiple databases. The first of these was with Pelagios and its partner, Pleiades. Pelagios is a collaborative effort of over 30 scholarly websites which hold geographic data related to ancient art, archaeology, history, and literature.

Susan Urmy. [Library Dean’s Fellow Alex Ayris Presenting His Project]. 2016. photograph. Vanderbilt University Libraries


A Guide to Syriac Authors

A Guide to Syriac Authors is a scholarly manual with entries on nearly 1,000 authors who wrote in Syriac or otherwise had an influence on Syriac literature. Today more than 20,000 manuscripts preserve texts in Syriac pertaining to theology, philosophy, commerce, science and medicine. As a digital reference work, A Guide to Syriac Authors employs linked data technology to meet the needs of manuscript cataloguers and historical researchers interested in Syriac authors. Relationships between authors and texts, places, or other persons are documented through links to related information in The Syriac Gazetteer and The New Handbook of Syriac LiteratureA Guide to Syriac Authors is freely available online as the second volume of The Syriac Biographical Dictionary. Readers can browse entries online, download the entire publication, and offer editorial revisions at

David A. Michelson and Nathan Gibson. A Guide to Syriac Authors. (, 2016). Website


The Syriac Gazetteer

The Syriac Gazetteer is a geographical reference work for places relevant to Syriac studies. This includes places named in Syriac texts, places of interest to those who work on Syriac texts, and places where scholarship on Syriac is being produced. There are no temporal or spatial boundaries for the geographic database, and so it includes places relevant to any period of history useful for Syriac studies, from places mentioned in the Peshitta (Syriac) version of Genesis to modern cities in Iraq, and from ancient Edessa to Mongol-era outposts in China and Syriac diaspora communities in the United States. Readers can browse entries online, download the entire publication, and offer editorial revisions at

Thomas A. Carlson and David A. Michelson. The Syriac Gazetteer. (, 2014). Website


Qadishe: A Guide to Syriac Saints

Qadishe (from the Syriac word meaning “saints”) is a scholarly catalogue of over 1,000persons venerated in the Syriac Christian traditions. Qadishe includes entries for saints native to the Syriac-speaking world as well as for biblical figures and saints from other linguistic or cultural traditions who were appropriated into Syriac religious memory. Individual descriptions of each saint include name variants (in Syriac as well as in translation), biographical information such as death dates and related persons, and bibliographies of primary and secondary literature including accounts of the saint’s life. For places and texts associated with a saint, Qadishe provides references to related information in The Syriac Gazetteer and the The Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca Electronica. Readers can access the entries and offer editorial revisions at

Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent and David A. Michelson. Qadishe: A Guide to Syriac Saints. (, 2016). Website


Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca Electronica

The Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca Electronica (BHSE) is a guide to over 1,000Syriac stories, hymns, and homilies on Christian saints. These texts blossomed alongside the cult of the saints in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. While traditions in Greek and Latin are well known to scholars, the stories of the Christian saints of the Middle East are only just being discovered. BHSE makes Syriac hagiography available to scholars and the wider public with information about these texts including: authors, opening and closing lines, manuscripts, translations, and bibliography. BHSE is the result of a partnership between and the Jesuit scholarly society, La société des Bollandistes. BHSE is freely available online. Readers can browse entries online, download the entire publication, and offer editorial revisions at

Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent et al. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca Electronica. (, 2016). Website